Michael Steiner Ambassador of Germany to India called on the Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed here this morning. He was accompanied by his wife Eliese Steiner.
Minister of State for H&UDD and I&C, Mohammad Ashraf Mir, was also present on the occasion.
During their meeting, the Chief Minister discussed with the German Ambassador several issues of mutual interest, especially those related to increasing footprint of tourists to Kashmir from European countries, adopting best practices in solid waste management and developing skills through vocational training.
Michael Steiner informed the Chief Minister that Germany officially recommends its citizens to travel to Kashmir. He offered to cooperate on changing the negative perception created about safety of tourists while visiting the Valley.
Mufti Sayeed highlighted the need for withdrawal of travel advisories imposed by several European nations on Kashmir as it is as safe to travel to as any other destination in the world. He also cited many climatic similarities that exist between Europe and Kashmir.
The Chief Minister also referred to the J&K Travel Mart that Kashmir is hosting for the first time since 1988. “Delegates from 20 countries are also participating in the Mart which I think should do a lot in changing perceptions back home on travelling to the Paradise on Earth,” he stated.
Mufti Sayeed also discussed with him his plan of organizing a ‘Mini-Davos’ at Gulmarg in winter, where he would like to invite Prime Minister Narendra Modi to host country’s top Corporate heads, on the analogy of World Economic Forum (WEF), which is held every year in Switzerland.
The Chief Minister also asked Michael Steiner to explore possibility of holding a Golf tournament for EU Envoys to India, either at Pahalgam or Srinagar. “During my earlier tenure, I invited European Ambassadors for a tee off at Royal Spring Golf Course. It was a wonderful experience,” he said, while inviting the German Ambassador to visit Gulmarg and Pahalgam during their stay in Kashmir.
The German Ambassador offered cooperation to J&K on solid waste management in which Germany has set benchmarks in best practices. “Scientific waste management is a precondition for any tourist destination,” he said while offering help in transfer of technology from his country.
He also highlighted the thrust his country is laying on skill development. The Chief Minister also called for transfer of best practices in vocational training in sharpening the skills of our youth so that they are profitably employed.
Michael Steiner also praised the stunning beauty of Kashmir and its wonderful weather. He said he is a frequent traveller to the Valley and this time he is also here to celebrate his wife’s birthday.
The German Ambassador also invited Mufti Sayeed to his birthplace, Munich, which he described as Germany’s & EU’s Kashmir.